I am exhausted from the emotions of the past few days.
As a former college student, a former university professor and now as UF’s president, I know to expect that the last week of summer and the first week of classes will be emotional. I’m always sad when summer ends, and I’m always anxious when the new academic year begins. I’m also always energized and excited by the challenges and opportunities of new classes and in meeting new friends and colleagues.
This year, the emotions are more intense than ever before.
Living on campus in the Dasburg House with my wife, Linda, allows us to experience the seasons and rhythm of UF. For the past week, however, we have experienced the emotions of campus life from an even closer vantage point: a residence hall – specifically Jennings, Room 2026.
While living in Jennings, we have greeted families and helped new students move in across campus. We’ve eaten in the dining halls, explored the tunnels of Sledd Hall and been a part of fun activities at night, including a Yulee area shaving cream fight with hundreds of students. In the midst of the fun, energy and anxiety of the new academic year, I also participated in a sad-but-beautiful service in the Baughman Center on Lake Alice, mourning the loss and celebrating the life of second-year law student Connor Pace.
As I’ve worked on writing this Thursday’s annual State of the University address, I have reflected on both the history and the future of our beloved and great university. Our aspiration is to be recognized as the very best in all that we do. We are already among the best, and now we are determined to be the very best. I was filled with happiness and pride last week as I welcomed hundreds of new faculty to our campus, and I told them they were now part of an amazing university. I told them I wished for them great joy in their teaching and scholarship, and that throughout their careers they would always aspire to even greater excellence in all that they do as UF faculty.
If you are a new student, faculty member or member of UF’s staff, then I trust you feel warmly welcomed. As you will learn, it is Great to be a Florida Gator! Please do give a shout out when you see me walking across campus, in line at Starbucks, attending an event or on Twitter @PresidentFuchs. My personal email is email@example.com and I always welcome notes with suggestions, criticisms, questions, praise or any of your thoughts.
I wish for all members of the UF community a new academic year filled with diligence, hard work, success and joyful emotions. Go Gators!